Distinct population of hair cell progenitors can be isolated from the postnatal mouse cochlea using side population analysis

Etienne Savary, Jean Philippe Hugnot, Yolaine Chassigneux, Cecile Travo, Christophe Duperray, Thomas Van De Water, Azel Zine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


In mammals, the permanence of hearing loss is due mostly to the incapacity of the cochlea to replace lost mechano-receptor cells (i.e., hair cells [HCs]). The generation of new HCs from a renewable source of progenitors is a principal requirement for developing a cell therapy within this sensory organ. A subset of stem cells, termed side population (SP), has been identified in several tissues of mammals. The ATP-binding cassette transporter Abcg2/Bcrp1 contributes to the specification of the SP phenotype and is proposed as a universal marker for stem/progenitor cells. A defining character of these SP cells is a high efflux capacity for Hoechst dye. Here, we demonstrate that Abcg2 transporter is expressed with two other stem/progenitor cell markers (i.e., Nestin and Musashi1) in distinct and overlapping domains of the supporting cells within the postnatal cochlea. We have developed and describe a fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) technique that enables the purification of a discrete subpopulation of SP-supporting cells from the early postnatal mouse cochlea based on their ability to exclude Hoechst dye. These FACS-isolated cells can divide and express markers of stem/progenitor cells such as Abcg2, a determinant of the SP phenotype, and Musashi1, a neural stem/progenitor cell marker. These markers can differentiate cells expressing markers of HCs and supporting cells in vitro. Our observation that these SP cells are capable of differentiating into HC-like cells implies a possible use for such cells (i.e., the replacement of lost auditory HCs within damaged cochlea).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)332-339
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Abcg2 transporter
  • Hair cells
  • Hearing loss
  • Side population
  • Side population-supporting cells
  • Stem/progenitor cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Distinct population of hair cell progenitors can be isolated from the postnatal mouse cochlea using side population analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this